A slain Filipina trans-woman’s story survives, in part because of award-winning director PJ Raval’s moving documentary!
Botswana’s High Court hears queer sex ban challenge, Germany compensates anti-gay investigation targets, Poland’s far right ruling party pursues pre-election homophobia ploy, U.S. military prepares for transgender troop purge, Ireland’s gay P.M. serves salvo at Pence’s St. Pat’s breakfast, and more global LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of March 18, 2019
Call Her Ganda!
Program #1,616 distributed 03/18/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Botswana’s High Court hears a challenge
Feature: When a U.S. Marine killed a trans-woman alleged sex worker in
Call Her Ganda opens in the Philippines and the UK this month, and it’s slated to air on US public television in July. This Way Out’s CHRISTOPHER GAAL sat down with director PJ Raval to discuss his film and its worldwide impact (with music and clips from the film).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending March 16, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor,reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Michael LeBeau
Botswana’s High Court held a one-day hearing on March 14th in a case challenging the criminalization of consensual adult gay or lesbian sex. Courts in the southern African country decided a few years ago that the law applies to women and well as men.
Attorneys pushing for repeal argued that Botswanan society has changed markedly since the anti-gay-sex laws were established – a “gift” of British colonizers – and that they’re outdated and should be overturned.
Lawyers for the government said that “the law should reflect on the values of society,” and claimed that, while attitudes may have changed in other parts of the world, there haven’t been any significant changes in societal attitudes in Botswana towards gay people to warrant repeal.
Same-gender love was, in fact, widely accepted among the native Tswana people before British colonizers brought their homophobia with them, including a penal code that punishes “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” with up to seven years in prison. Another statute, “indecent practices between persons,” carries a sentence of up to two years.
Equality activists attended the hearing in large numbers, some holding placards that read, “Stigma must fall” and “My bedroom, my privacy.” High Court Judge Abednico Tafa told the packed courtroom in the nation’s capital, Gaborone, that a decision would be issued on June 11th.
Kenya’s High Court is scheduled to announce its ruling on that country’s British colonial-era laws outlawing same-gender sex in May. Angola reportedly became the first country in Africa earlier this year to overturn its anti-queer sex laws.
Germany’s Justice Ministry issued a directive this week authorizing financial compensation to people who were being investigated, or taken into custody but not convicted, under the country’s Nazi-era laws against consensual adult gay sex. Even though the notorious Paragraph 175 was instituted under Hitler to snuff out what had been a boldly emerging gay rights movement, the governments of post-World War II Germanys each kept Paragraph 175 on the books until East Germany removed it in 1968, and West Germany followed suit a year later. Unified German lawmakers ordered the records of thousands of convictions under that law to be expunged in 2017, and offered payments equivalent to about 3500 U.S. dollars for each conviction, plus half that amount for every year of prison time that a person started to serve. This week’s directive authorizes payment to those investigated and/or detained though never convicted of about 600 U.S. dollars for each investigation that was opened, plus about 1800 U.S. dollars for each year a person was held in pre-trial custody.
An estimated 70,000 people were convicted of consensual same-gender sex under Paragraph 175, but the Justice Ministry announcement this week said that many more who “were prosecuted, but ultimately not convicted” also deserved compensation. But it added a disclaimer that the payments are “not to be understood as damages,” but as part of a “symbolic recognition of impairments suffered.”
Poland’s ruling far-right Law and Justice Party has decided to play the homophobia card ahead of upcoming European Union elections in May, and national elections later this year, in the heavily Roman Catholic country. Their favorite “boogey-people” in the 2015 elections were foreigners. At its annual convention, Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński warned that voters who fail to support Law and Justice this year would allow nefarious forces to influence the upbringing of their children. “Our opponents attack our social policy,” he said, “and, even worse, attack families. … We will defend the Polish family.” He ridiculed Warsaw’s mayor for humanely liberalizing policies affecting LGBTQ people earlier this year, calling Rafał Trzaskowski’s 12-point declaration “unbelievable.”
“He talks nonsense about alleged plans to corrupt children,” the mayor shot back in a Facebook post. Trzaskowski described his initiatives as being “about tolerance – to protect our fellow citizens from hate speech, intimidation and lynching.”
Another opposition party member, Monika Rosa, said the entrenched right-wing government is “building a campaign of hatred towards LGBT people. … let them really protect children,” she added, “by fighting against pedophilia in the Church.”
Queer organizations around the world joined the global chorus of outrage and sadness over the massacre of some 50 Muslims during quiet Friday prayers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. An Australia-born white nationalist who posted a voluminous hate-filled manifesto and live-streamed the massacre called his targets “invaders.”
U.S. President Donald Trump expressed America’s condolences, but went on to veto the Congressional resolution opposing his so-called “National Emergency” by warning of criminal “invaders” at the country’s Southern border.
The queer U.S. advocacy group Human Rights Campaign called “hate violence against Muslims … a global epidemic,” and said that, “we mourn for the victims and their families.” Leading U.K. advocacy group Stonewall said that, “it’s more important than ever to stand together in solidarity.”
A number of U.S. politicians already competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination also expressed their sadness and outrage. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the only openly queer person in the race – so far, at least – called the massacre “an attack on us all. May every New Zealander and every Muslim hurting today feel lifted up in love and solidarity. … And yet again, the obvious bears repeating: white nationalism kills.”
A memo published on March 12th by the U.S. Defense Department has put the wheels in motion to implement Donald Trump’s ban on military service by qualified transgender people. The new order bans trans-identified enlistees if they’ve already transitioned, and new trans recruits must be willing to serve in their birth gender and promise not to transition.
Currently serving trans troops who aren’t willing to serve in their birth gender will be discharged within a month. The directive gives all branches of the armed forces until April 12th to have the policy in place.
The U.S. Supreme Court lifted the injunctions issued by lower federal courts stopping the ban, though some lawyers claim that a D.C. court injunction remains in place pending a final appeal.
According to the Advocate, the trans ban will require the discharge of an estimated 13,700 service members, out of the estimated 15,000 trans troops now serving. That would be the largest single workplace layoff of transgender people in history – despite Congressional testimony from virtually every U.S. service chief that they’ve seen no discipline, morale, or unit readiness problems as a result of transgender troops serving openly in the military.
Several LGBTQ rights groups assailed the move to withdraw the “welcome mat” laid out by the Obama administration in 2016 to honorably serving openly transgender troops. Statements by OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association called “this horrific policy … even more cruel than “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – to which many have compared the Trump trans ban – “because the Pentagon explicitly told these service members [in 2016 that] it was finally safe to come out – and now they are being targeted for discrimination.” The policy requiring trans people to serve in their birth gender or get out “betrays our service members,” the statement adds, “and is based on nothing more than blatant bigotry.”
And finally, Ireland’s proudly out Prime Minister Leo Varadkar brought his boyfriend with him, Dr. Matt Barrett, to what he called “a lovely breakfast” at the home of notoriously anti-queer Mike Pence during pre-St. Patrick’s Day ceremonies this week at the official Vice Presidential residence in Washington. Varadkar also met with President Trump, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other political leaders during his visit.
Pence’s wife Karen, who would normally have co-hosted the Vice Presidential breakfast, was conveniently out of town, so Pence’s sister filled in. The Vice President’s wife probably feels quite at home in the queer-hostile United Arab Emirates, where she’s on an official visit leading the U.S. delegation to the Special Olympics World Games. “Mother,” as hubby Mike calls her, has been criticized for teaching at a private religious school in the D.C. area that rejects queer students, queer parents, or any LGBTQ-supportive student or school employee.
Most such events are open to the press, as was last year’s Pence breakfast with then-Irish P.M. Enda Kenny. But even the leading newspaper in his home state, the Indianapolis Star, criticized the Vice President for meeting with Indian-Irishman Varadkar behind closed doors.
We don’t know what Pence and the Prime Minister discussed during their get-together, though Varadkar vowed ahead of time to raise LGBTQ rights issues with U.S. officials during his D.C. visit. He was not shy about expressing his personal gay Pride in brief remarks, after a Vice Presidential introduction, before members of the press were forced to get their breakfast elsewhere:
[sound/Varadkar:] “I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs. And I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible. It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are, after all, all God’s children.”
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